Cana, Galilee Region

Cana (modern name Kafr Kanna; also known as Khirbet Cana) is a Galilean town five miles northeast of Nazareth. Its population of 8,500 includes both Muslims and Christians.

Long revered as the site of Jesus' first miracle or turning water into wine at a wedding, Kafr Kanna has good historical support for its authenticity as ancient Cana.

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In the Bible

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine.""Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. (John 2:1-11)

Authenticity

The location of the Cana visited by Jesus is disputed and not known for certain. Kafr Kanna is the most traditional site and has the following factors in favor of its authenticity:

However, recent excavations on a hill just north of Nazareth have uncovered ruins of a Jewish village from the 1st century AD. The excavators think the biblical Cana could be there instead of at this site 1 km to the east.

History of Cana

History records that a church was built in Cana by Empress Helena (mother of Constantine) in the 4th century, and this was identified with the remains of a large building found by travellers to Kafr Kanna in the 17th century.

Recent excavations have uncovered ruins of houses from the 1st-4th centuries AD, of a 5th-century atrium with portico, a Christian funerary building from the 5th or 6th century, and a medieval building.

The land at Kafr Kanna was sold by the lord of Sidon to the Knights Hospitallers in 1254. The Franciscans became established here in 1641 and began building the present church over an older church in 1879. It was consecrated in 1883.

What to See at Cana

The Franciscan Wedding Church at Cana is small and fronted by a courtyard. The facade has angel figures and is flanked by two bell towers and over an arcaded narthex.

Inside, the church has two levels. The upper church has a chapel surmounted by a simple dome. In the nave just before the stairs is a fragment of a Byzantine mosaic dating from the 5th or 6th century and preserves the name of the donor in Aramaic: "In memory of the pious Joseph, son of Tanhum, son of Bota and of his children who made this table, may it be for them a blessing, Amen."

The lower church has a chapel and a small museum with artifacts from the site, including a winepress, a plastered cistern and vessels of various dates. One old jar is said to be one of the six jars used for the miracle.

Opposite the Franciscan church is a Greek Orthodox church, which is usually closed. Two 13th-century capitals are displayed near it.

The ruins of ancient Cana are on top of a small rounded hill rising 60m above the plain. They can be seen on the eastern slope (Byzantine and early Arabic), around the top slopes, and on the peak (mostly Greek and Roman).

The local shop in Kafr Kanna sells "wedding wine" and related souvenirs.

Getting There

The small village of Kafr Kanna is located in Lower Galilee, 7km northeast of Nazareth on Highway 154. To visit the church, park on the side of the highway and walk down the narrow village street to the Franciscan church on the right.

The ruins of the ancient village are atop a small hill and accessible only on foot or by SUV. The hike is strenuous, but rewarded with sweeping views and old ruins. The hill can be climbed from any direction.

Quick Facts on Cana

Site Information
Names:Cana · Cana Catholic Wedding Church · Cana of Galilee · Franciscan Wedding Church · Kafr Kanna · Khirbet Cana
Categories:churches; biblical sites; miracle sites
Faiths:Franciscan order
Dates:1881 (church)
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:32.746826° N, 35.338726° E
Address:Galilee Region, Israel
Hours:Church: Mon-Sat 8am-noon and 2-6pm (5pm in winter); closed Sunday
Lodging:View hotels near Cana
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Kay Prag, Blue Guide Israel & the Palestinian Territories, 1st ed. (2002), 342-43.
  2. Khirbet Cana - BibleWalks
  3. Cana / Kafr Kanna, Israel - Planetware

More Information

© Liz Thompson
© David Poe
© David Poe
© Liz Thompson
© David Poe
© David Poe

Map of Cana, Galilee Region

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